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276                            THE GAY GENIUS

mixed with celery and other vegetables. Because of lack of dry fire-
wood, people had cold meals and many of them had bloated stomachs.
"I have seen this with my own eyes; it is not hearsay. I expect an
epidemic and corpses on roadsides between spring and summer."

Su Tungpo left. Then the famine came, and people died. It is harcf
to believe that when Su returned to the capital, he was actually
impeached for "exaggerating famine conditions". But saving the
people from hunger and starvation became an issue for politicians tOf1
throw someone they feared out of power. As far as the imperial govern-
ment was concerned, there was no famine in the capital. Half the
population of the lake district had not died yet. That year, back near
the capital at Yingchow, Su Tungpo was to watch the effect of the
famine from north of the Yangtse river when famine refugees, after
abandoning their homes and trudging five hundred miles driven by
hunger, reached his district. But the failure of crops in 1091 was to
have worse consequences yet. The next year it became a disaster.